Reflections From Mark’s Gospel: Chapter 12

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In this chapter Jesus harshly addresses the scribes and Pharisees.  He uses a parable to expose their wickedness they being the vine growers in God’s vineyard (vv.1-12) who desire to destroy him.  There’s also the account of the Pharisees and Herodian’s testing Jesus with the legality of the Poll tax (vv.13-17); then the consideration of marriage and the resurrection among the Sadducees (vv.18-27); followed by clarifying which is the foremost commandment (vv.28-34); leading into clarifying whose Son the Christ is (vv.35-40); and concluding with the widow’s mite (vv.41-44)

Jesus’ mastery at communicating truth—kingdom truth—was often biting, aggressive and offensive to God’s enemies. For the Pharisees and scribes to receive an indictment by Jesus regarding the motives of their heart came on the heels of their questioning his authority (vv.27-33).  The fact remains they understood who he declared himself to be, and that was the reason why so much tension obtained between the Scribes, Pharisees and Jesus.

Nevertheless, Jesus did not let them off “the hook” when they challenged him.  Jesus pushed back.  Note that the parable points to God as the owner of the vineyard—He’s Creator and thus owns everything—and the Chief priests, scribes and elders are the stewards—they rent the vineyard.  They are the lesser and they still refuse to submit to Christ.

The following section on the poll tax to Caesar is no different really.  Render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God (v.17).  What belongs to God?  Everything!  It’s as if Jesus is commanding the community to get things right—meaning they’re off.  The elders and Pharisees are not in touch with who owns it all, but Jesus is.

The account of the Sadducees and their inquiry as to who is rightfully married to the widow after the resurrection is telling: (I.e., they did not believe in the resurrection because of their lack of knowledge).  They lacked scriptural knowledge and consequently of God’s power (vv.24, 27) Jesus said:

“Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God?….you are greatly mistaken” (vv.24, 27)

Notice the progression: not understanding God’s word leads to not understanding God’s power, which means that in order to understand God’s power we must first understand His self-disclosure in particular revelation.  If God is the creator, then he can easily raise the dead; if God can raise the dead, then he can transform our present state of being into a different one from this fallen condition.

As far as marriage goes, there won’t be any between present spouses (Contra Mormon doctrine), but between the Church and Christ yes, there will be!  This seems plain from the passage.

So, what do I make of all this?  I should heed Christ’s authority by recognizing He’s the Son of God who owns everything, who will raise me up on the last day and I must beware of blinding pride which, as with the Pharisees and Scribes, causes us to resist the Holy Spirit.  May this not depict me Jesus, but may your mercy, truth and grace ever keep me.


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